Your knee features two menisci, which are wedge-like structures that are made of cartilage. One meniscus is located at the outer edge of the knee, while the other is at the inner edge. The purpose of the menisci is to evenly distribute weight across the knee and to serve as cushions between the thighbone and shinbone. If you’ve recently visited an orthopedic doctor because of knee pain, he or she may have diagnosed you with a torn meniscus. Although this common orthopedic injury tends to result in severe symptoms, non-surgical treatment is often effective.
The symptoms of a meniscus tear vary according to the severity of the injury. With a minor meniscus tear, you’ll likely experience swelling and minor pain, which typically dissipate within a few weeks. A moderate meniscus tear results in more severe pain and swelling at the center or side of the knee. The pain may worsen if you squat or twist the knee. Without treatment from an orthopedic doctor, the symptoms may recur with overuse of the knee. If the meniscus is severely torn, pieces of it may migrate to the joint space. In addition to pain, swelling, and stiffness, you may be unable to fully straighten your knee. The knee may give way when you try to place weight on it.
Orthopedic doctors often find that the cause of a torn meniscus is a quick twisting or turning movement of the knee, which may occur during sports activities or while lifting heavy objects. Older adults are also more susceptible to suffering a meniscus tear from everyday activities because the cartilage gradually becomes worn with age.
For minor meniscus tears, an orthopedic doctor may recommend resting and applying ice to the area. Elevating the leg, taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and wearing a compression bandage can also help. Severe or persistent symptoms may warrant orthopedic surgery to repair the torn cartilage.
Residents in Forest Hills and throughout the NYC area can find the orthopedic care they need at Able Orthopedic & Sports Medicine . Our experienced team of orthopedic doctors and surgeons regularly treat patients with meniscus tears, ACL tears, and similar injuries. If you have any questions about an upcoming appointment, give us a call at (718) 690-9520.